Try, try again

14 March 2011

Is this becoming a habit? My greatest weakness, boredom, has reared its head rather rapidly again, and I’ve found myself working through a notice period for the second time in less than twelve months.

How did I manage to find myself in the same situation again? I left my previous employer at the end of July last year, and wrote at the time that I wanted to mix things up a bit, alternating between contracting and working on my own software business.

Well, now I’m going to have a second try at making that plan work. I’m not going to rush into job hunting like I did last time - in fact, I’m not even going to look for a job at all for a while. I want to devote my time to my own business, Axe Software, and see where it takes me.

The seemingly insane thing about my plan is that Axe Software is currently making much less money than ever - I’ve recently stopped charging for my text adventure game engine, Quest, and I’m working on the new version 5.0 as free open-source software.

That sounds mad - “giving up your job to work on software that you’re just going to give away? What the fuck is wrong with you? I’m OUT!” Well, I think it makes much more sense in the long term. Read my blog post on making the switch to open source for full details, but basically the software has to be free to compete with the other systems that are out there - not only are pretty much all of Quest’s competitors free, but historically they’ve been more powerful too.

By making Quest both free (done) and totally kick-ass (to do), I’m hoping to make it appeal to many more users. So, perhaps this means in future there may be more opportunities for me to do paid-for customisations, for example. Perhaps there are ways of making money from other services that fit around Quest. Whatever, it doesn’t actually matter - even if I never make a penny from it directly, I think it will be a great demonstration of the kind of work that I do - something that will make me stand out in the next round of job applications. Having all the code easily viewable on CodePlex means future employers will have the ability to examine my work in considerable detail - every aspect of a large software project that I have designed, architected, coded, delivered, and is actually enjoyed by people who choose to use it. If an employer is not interested in that, it’s unlikely I’m interested in working for them.

But most importantly, it’s what I want to do. I really want to build this software, and I have the opportunity - I have enough savings that I don’t need to worry about earning a salary for a (little) while, and it seems almost irresponsible not to make the most of that. Does that make me sound like a colossal wanker? I hope not.

My employment comes to an end at the beginning of April, and I’m looking forward to it. Am I going to put my feet up and relax with my new-found freedom? Fuck, no. I’m going to be working - hard, much harder than I have ever worked before, to create some great software.

[Photo credit: “Please Try Again <3” by Smath.]